Friday, October 31, 2014

Grace Always

It never fails. I ALWAYS seem to get myself in trouble when I deal in absolutes.

  • She never gets anything right.
  • He always disappoints. 
  • We will never get that done. 
  • They always let us down.

There is just something that seems "off" somehow when I add the word "always" or "never" to a statement or opinion. It "never" fails to back me into a corner or put me on the spot when I put parameters on a person or situation through my own observations or assumptions.

Arrogantly, I assume that everyone should think like me or respond in a way that I believe is right. As a result, I have set myself up for the comparisons, competitions and criticism that leads to bitter, self-righteous and judgmental attitudes.

If I am not careful, these sins creep into how I see others, like the moms and the ministers' wives I blogged earlier about. My perspective on situations within relationships and even the church becomes tainted. Satan is given the opportunity to take root and grow his weeds of negativity and discord. I even get into trouble with how I see myself sometimes.

Ladies, I don't know if you can relate, but I am challenging you to replace your own "absolutes" for God's. When I get out of my own head, with all the baggage of my own experiences, and seek God's perspective, I find some absolutes I can actually count on:

  • I am a child of the One True King and that cannot change. 
  • He always loves me unconditionally. 
  • He has a plan for each of us. 
  • He will never leave or forsake me. 
  • He alone is sovereign.   
As I go through life, understanding past circumstances and living in the present relationships God has given me, I find freedom through taking off my old way of thinking and putting on His. As I receive His grace, it multiplies and I find that I have it to give to others. 

I find myself saying and thinking and writing this prayer a lot lately; Increase You, decrease me. 
Let it be so Lord, let it be so ALWAYS.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Giving Grace to the Minister's Wife

I had a variety of ministers' wives as examples growing up.

As a result of my insecure, critical "old"self, I was pretty hard on these ladies. I had yet to walk in these ladies' shoes, yet I was very opinionated about their gait and stride.

In my youth, I really thought things were pretty black and white when it came to being a Christian and, especially when it came to being a minister's wife. I mean, how hard can it be?

Then I became one. Almost 16 years ago, I became the wife of a student minister, completely believing that I understood what I had gotten into. Plus, I was "in love" and totally blinded to what our reality would be. Can anyone relate?

Like I wrote earlier, just as God used time, age and experience to shape my views on mommy-hood, He has and is doing the same for me toward ministers' wives.

I am so very thankful that God has and continues to forgive me for my judgemental ways. He gently reminds me that each of us are on our own, individual, personal journey with Him. We all respond differently as He has shaped us through a variety of backgrounds and experiences. He has given and continues to give us all grace.

So, as in my role as a mother, I find myself giving and receiving grace to myself and others - as ministers' wives, we've gotta do the same.

Ladies, we are all apart of the Bride of Christ. We've got to rally around each other, loving and supporting one another as Christians sisters. Hidden feelings and unspoken thoughts are still known to God. Let's confess and grow together - giving grace to each of us just as it has been given to us.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Giving Grace to Moms

I became a mom at 26. I was scared and overwhelmed, but at the same time there were a few things I was absolutely sure of:

  • My baby would not be the baby that throws the temper tantrum in Walmart. 
  • Her outfit would always match from the cute socks on her feet to the not-too-big bow in her hair. 
  • We would parent any and all siblings the same, raising them to love God, us and each other. 
Now, nearly 12 years and two more babies later, reality has definitely set in:
  • My toddler has been the one screaming so loud the pharmacist on the other side of Super Walmart felt it necessary to make sure everything is okay. 
  • My oldest, quite often without caring, leaves the house in mismatched socks, not as her own fashion statement, but simply because she doesn't care if her socks match each other much less her outfit.
  • The same? God gave us three very different girls with a whole lot of different needs AND nearly 12 years of grace to change my mind. 
There are quite a few things I would love to tell my new mom self. Among them is that the older I will get and the more kids I will have the less I will know. 

As I look back, God's graciousness overwhelms me. And I am so very thankful for the forgiveness that He has granted me for being so self-righteous and judgmental. 

Working with and loving on preschool families at church, God has opened my eyes to the truth that each Christian mother is just trying to be faithful to Christ as she makes decisions for her kids - work or stay-at-home? Home school or public school or private school? Immunize or not? Organic food? (Really the list of issues moms judge each other over is crazy long!)

I realize the same grace God has afforded me in my parenting experiences, I need to both afford myself and other moms too. Our family may not measure up to some deacon family's "ideal" for us or even my own expectations, but that's okay. I can't judge what God has led another mother to or not to do. It isn't my place. Scripture says that's God's job. 

God's given me grace; I've got to do the same. 

Friday, October 24, 2014

Take Courage

It may appear, at first glance, that after reading my last post…and taking in to account the title of this post, that I have fear conquered.  That all of the time I do it afraid.  That I never let fear make my decisions.  That fear is not the boss of me.  That fear is a non-issue.  Well, the truth is…I am fearful!!!  I am to speak to a group tomorrow and I am fearful!

Fear is the boss of me more often than I like to admit!  Many of my decisions are based on whether or not I am afraid to attempt said fearful thing.  So, battling this fear thing is not new for me…and it is for sure a battle!!  The enemy wants me to succumb to fear.  He loves it when fear rules.  After all…he knows I am an easy target. 

So…what do I do about it?  What works for me?  Here are a few tips.

1. Take courage!  Cour-age—noun.  The ability to do something that frightens one.  Take it!  According to scripture it is ours for the taking!!!  Look at these Words below!!  (By the way, the comments in italics below are mine...I sure am fearful someone will take offense and think I am adding a 'jot or tiddle' and changing scripture!  Fearful again!  It is exhausting being me!)

·  Be strong and let your heart take courage, all you (ministry wives) who hope in the Lord!!  Psalm 31:24

·  Wait for the Lord; be strong and let (let?  hummm….we must let it happen….stop stopping it from happening!) your heart take courage; yes, wait for the Lord!  Psalm 27:14

·  But immediately (I love how He does that immediately!) Jesus spoke to them, saying, “take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.”  Matthew 14:27

·  Take courage and be men (or in our cases, women), O Philistines, or you will become slaves to the Hebrews, as they have been slaves to you; be men and fight.”  1 Samuel 4:9

·  Take courage, stand up!  He is calling for you (Can you hear Him calling you?)!  Mark 10:49

·  These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace.  In the world you have tribulation (Oh, yes we do!!), but take courage; I have overcome the world (Oh yes He has!!).  John 16:33

·  Say to those with an anxious heart (He knows when our hearts are anxious!!), take courage, fear not.  Behold your God will come with vengeance; the recompense of God will come, but He will save you.  Isaiah 35:4

·  He said, “O man (again, I repeat…oh women too!) of high esteem, do not be afraid.  Peace be with you; take courage and be courageous!”  Now as soon as he spoke to me, I received strength (receive that strength sister!) and said, “May my lord speak, for you have strengthened me.”  Daniel 10:19

Listen to His word and take courage!  Take it!  Wait!  First we must let go of that fear we are holding on to….our hands are full with fear….let it go….drop it!  Then our hands are free to take courage!

2. Remember what He says to me about courage.  (See above verses!)

3. Do it afraid.  Remember last post?

4. The dread is more often worse than the reality.  Powerful statement huh??  Even if I may say so myself!!  Seriously!  Dreading whatever it is that is coming down the pipe—real or imaginary—is most of the time worse that whatever it is that is in the pipe!!

5. Realizing that I miss out of so many blessings from God when I attempt to do only those things that I know I can do.  How can I see the Power of God work when I don’t put myself out there and do the impossible??  Seeing the power of God at work is really high on my priority list….I must take courage and do it afraid and watch Him work!

Oh there is so much more….but enough for now.

I must finish preparing to speak tomorrow and take courage and do it afraid!!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Do It Afraid!!

What are you afraid of?



                        The Unknown?

                                    Being Alone?

                                                Going there alone?

                                                            Speaking in public?

                                                                   Praying in public?

                                                                             The dentist?


                                                                                                            Enclosed Spaces?





                                    Driving at night?



Everyone is afraid of something!  Isn’t that comforting to know that we all struggle with fears??  Now granted, many of the fears we struggle with are irrational….and it is difficult to unearth the root causes…..but fear, whether rational or irrational, is fear!!  Many times it is paralyzing and it rarely does any good for people to tell us to 'not be afraid'!  If it was that easy to not be afraid, no one would be afraid!!  Nope, not that easy!

Our granddaughter, Anne, is afraid of dogs.  All sizes…all kinds.  Small, medium or large—at the sighting she runs to the nearest adult and/or chair to climb on.  Recently, she has gotten bolder and if the dog is on a leash, she simply freezes instead of running away.  Progress!

When my brother came to visit with his dog Cooper, Anne, over a period of time, became less and less afraid….to the point of actually touching Cooper when he was fast asleep!  I kept telling her over and over, "do it afraid, Anne, do it afraid!"

I am terrified of heights.  I cannot tell you how many times I would go completely out of my way in Dallas, Texas to keep from driving over a very tall bridge that was on my route to Tennessee.  Ridiculous.  Insane.  Crazy!

Last month my husband and I took a much needed vacation to Park City, Utah!  In case you might have forgotten….that was where much of the 2003 winter Olympics were held.  Lots of mountains.  Beautiful aspen trees changing.  Breathtaking sights.  But the best of the best sights...were on the top of the mountain….and to get there….you had to take the gondola.  Up.  Up.  Up.

I desperately wanted to see the creation God painted…and my husband really, really wanted to go….and so, I decided to do it afraid!

I gripped the handrail.  I pressed myself up against my husband.  I kept my eyes directly ahead.  I rode the gondola up the very, very high mountain.  Fearful?  Yes!  but I did it afraid and I am so glad I did!!

Once I got to the top….and off of the swinging torture chamber….I marveled at the beauty all around me! 

It occurred to me as I stood up on that mountain that I miss out on a lot of amazing, beautiful, God-kinds of things when I let fear make my decisions. 

Sometimes we just need to do it afraidand watch how God uses us or blesses us or speaks to us or who-knows-what!!!

So, my friend….what are you afraid of?  Pray.  Then…Do it afraid!! Tell your children to do it afraid!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Divorce, Deception, or Death

I am always talking to ministers’ wives and asking for blog ideas.  Let’s face it there are only so many ways I can tie chocolate into ministry life.  I did have one sister share a good idea for a blog so here goes.

When you are dealing with another church with the potential of making a move, how do you feel?  This sweet sister said that with their last move she and her husband felt different emotions.  Her husband felt that it was “like a divorce or a betrayal.”  He really could not share with their current church that he was “talking” with another church.  For our sister in ministry, she said felt that they were being “deceptive.”  She also had no one to talk to other than her husband.  She added that she had to force herself to “continue blooming” where God had them planted at the time and not show that God was preparing them to be transplanted elsewhere.

When I read her message about this idea, I had to sit back and think on my own experiences.  To be honest, I had never really considered it.  I guess I was too tied up in the excitement of God working.
However, I think I would have to describe my feelings as a death.

When God moves us to a new ministry, my heart absolutely breaks with grief.  I am a pastor’s wife who strongly believes her church family is her family.  How can you not walk with people through births, baptisms, illness and death and not be emotionally attached?  For me, it is just not possible.  Having just walked though the valley of death by losing both my parents, I can honestly say that leaving a church family is like death.  I must go through the stages of grief-shock, numbness, anger, and acceptance.  The pain does subside and I soon plug in to the new ministry.  However, just as I miss my parents terribly, I miss my previous church family.  The comfort for me is in knowing that God’s plan is best and that one day I will spend eternity with all the church families we have served.

So ladies here are a couple of questions I would love for you to answer.

1.        How does your husband deal with the emotions of leaving a church and what does it feel like to him?
2.       How does leaving a church feel to you and how do you deal with the emotions?
3.       What about your children?  What are their emotions and how do you help with deal with a move?

I really would love for you to respond to these questions and have some good discussion.  I know my sister who asked for this blog idea would love to hear your responses.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Ministry First

Have you ever experienced a  "first" in your ministry life?  A time that blew you away, surprised you or shocked you?  I recently posed this question to some fellow sisters in ministry.  Let me share one of the first with you.

One sister shared about the first baptism at their new church plant and how Jesus literally rescued the new convert.  The individual being baptized was a Hispanic woman.  She wrote out her salvation story to be read by the person who led her to Christ.  The church learned that day that this new sister in Christ was about to commit suicide the very day her friend called and told her about Jesus.  What an amazing first in ministry!

My "first" in the ministry took place at our first church out of seminary.  We were the new "kids" and very naive.  When the church took the vote to call us, the members placed their votes in a small 3 x 5 metal box which looked much like my mom's recipe box.

A couple of weeks later at the end of our very first Sunday at the our new church, the chairman of the deacon body and who was also the chairman of the pulpit committee came forward.  The man was a huge cowboy-over six feet tall, 250 plus pounds, big hat and cowboy boots.  With his booming voice, he called our then family of three to the front of the church and handed me the "box."  I started shaking because I thought they were "de-calling" us.  This gentleman then announced the church was giving us an old fashion pounding.

As I said we were VERY naive.  My heart skipped a beat and I held my ten month son very tight.  Ladies, this young pastor's wife was raised in the city and had never heard of a pounding except for a fight.  My blonde brain started picturing the members passing through a line and "pounding" us.

Thankfully, my first was a blessing.  Our kitchen was well stocked with more flour, sugar, and noodles than you could image.  Oh, and the metal box contained recipes from all the sweet families in the church.

So ladies, what is one of your "first" in ministry?

By the way, the metal box is still part of my kitchen accessories and shares a reminder that there are always first in ministry life.